By NBF News

Monday, October 18, 2010


The journey so far
No! No! I'm not satisfied at all. We have all the potentials to rank among the great nations of the world. We have the wealth and the human resources. Nigeria is one of the richest countries not only in Africa, but in the world. I am not satisfied, and the problem is human. We have not been able to make the best use of our resources.

Best republic
Oh! The First Republic is the best I have witnessed. It was the best because of the quality of leadership at that time. You're talking about Awolowo, Zik, Ahmadu Bello, Osadebey, Anthony Enahoro, Okotie-Eboh, Okpara and S.L.A Akintola, among others.

These are first class people. I mean, you can just take the crop of leaders we have now and tell me anyone of them that can match these great men. None. Those were great men of ideas, brilliant, disciplined and highly dedicated leaders.

Sense of nostalgia
Yes, I do have a sense of nostalgia about the past, especially, the first republic. I entered parliament at the age of 27 and went into politics at 24. I was lucky to have learnt at the feet of those great men I have mentioned. They were the best of the best anywhere.

Critical areas to address
Education has collapsed. Infrastructure has collapsed. It is a shame that a country like Nigeria has no modern railway system. I should be able to travel to Abuja in a bullet train within two to three hours, and go from Calabar along the Atlantic to Lagos by train. I should be able to fly direct from here to any part of the world.

If you look at the education sector, it has collapsed, and it is a critical sector that must be addressed urgently, if we are interested in the future of this country. And also, the leadership question is very critical because everything is tied to leadership.

Legal profession since independence
When we started, the British gave us the best legal system and legal profession. It was a very good system. But now, although we still produce very good lawyers, we have average and bad lawyers whereas what I would like to see is that everyone should be the best in terms of competence.

However, I would rate our judiciary as very good as a whole, but that is not to say that there are no bad eggs in other places like Europe or America. Like it is done in those places, our judiciary should be able to deal with bad eggs effectively. The judiciary cannot be static; there must be a critical review of the system to a kind of self appraisal to take it to the next level.

Verdict on the nation at 50
My verdict is that we have failed our people. We have failed Africa and the world. We should be like Brazil, India or even our neighbour, Ghana but we are not.

Memorable independence anniversary
Yes, I have my memorable independence anniversary especially during the First Republic. When I was in the parliament, the first independence anniversary was glorious; the second glorious; the third glorious; the fourth glorious and; the fifth anniversary was also glorious.

The problem started in 1966 when the Army took over. That was the greatest tragedy that ever befell this country. It was the saddest moment in Nigerian history. And through that first coup, the wound on the nation is still there today.

Nigeria of my dream
Nigeria of my dream is a country on the same level as USA, Europe, Japan, India, China and Brazil where we have very sound quality of life; where unemployment is reduced to the barest minimum. At the moment, over 70% of Nigerians are living below poverty level, that is, earning less than two dollars per day. That is not Nigeria of my dream.

Nigeria of my dream is a country with good road networks across the country; good education system; good infrastructure; good health system and above all, character.

Leadership we need
We need patriotic and dedicated leaders who will be focused, well disciplined and above board.

Message to Nigerians on the country at 50
All well-meaning educated Nigerians should go into politics and don't leave politics to uneducated people and treasury looters. If you do that, you would be giving the country to people who are unworthy of leadership. Give it to people who are patriotic and determined to lift us among the best in the world.